Vapor Records CD
The old adage “you can’t judge a book by its cover” applies equally to album cover art. If one were to rate Surfing solely on its visual components, its marks would be middling at best. It consists of Zappa-esque potty humor and naked hirsute band members cavorting with sharp implements. The music itself however, is far more promising, some provocative song titles notwithstanding.
Devendra Banhart has made a name for himself as a solo artist, but his collaborations here with drummer Gregory Rogove and members of the Strokes revel in alt-folk spontaneity and psych rock jamming. The title tune, “To the Love Within,” and the sparsely adorned but oh-so-lovely “Another Mother” are particularly engaging.
There’s a freshness and vitality to the music-making here, suggesting that Banhart thrives in this more relaxed atmosphere and did well to take a break from the whirlwind ride of industry hype. So, if it takes a bit of visual silliness to bring the band into this creative space, I for one am willing to indulge them – to a degree. But next time, Devendra, keep your clothes ON!